This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all. Anyone who saw how LeBron James walked all over the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise knew all too well what would happen when Mike Brown was given the keys to Jerry Buss’ most prized possession. Since Brown arrived we’ve seen a rejuvenated Kobe Bryant. KB24 is showing not signs of slowing this season, in stark contrast to the aging veteran we watched limp through 2011.
Problem is Brown has allowed Kobe to play like its 2006 all over again. He might have his legs back but that doesn’t mean Bryant needs to have Smush Parker at his side to validate forcing shots and monopolizing the offense. No need to scapegoat Kwame Brown in the post when you’ve got Mike Brown as a coach.
Brown has enabled Kobe from the jump and continues to do so with his mixed messages and constant retractions.
Anybody who thinks all Phil Jackson did during his Hall of Fame career was to roll out the balls and whistle every once and a while has clearly never seen how Brown handles a team. At the highest level of hoops basketball knowledge is of equal importance to team management from a coaching perspective.
While Kobe has an ego the size of Peyton Manning’s selfish pride he’s nowhere near the Prima donna LeBron James is and will always be. That is what makes coaching Kobe such a challenge. He wants to win and is willing to do whatever it takes. Kobe’s motivations aren’t stemmed from the desire to be loved and respected. He could care less. Scoreboard is all that counts in the Mamba world of having success at success at success.
Thus it takes a strong personality to both coax the best out of Bryant while simultaneously reminding him that help is only a pass away. That Kobe no longer seems to trust men he’s been to war with reflects his feelings on the coaching staff and the system they’ve implemented.
When you don’t trust the policies of your employer you tend to lean on your own experience. From the moment Bryant realized his talent was superior to most everyone he’s ever faced he became aware that it was Kobe against the world. When Phil Jackson finally got Bryant to buy into his system and to trust those he played with dynasties were birthed.
Under Brown all of those sage teaching have been tossed out the window.
Brown’s criticism of Kobe’s shot selection came far too late in the season. He should have been screaming that from the Griffith Observatory back in December. To do it during a losing streak is poor taste. But to then turn around and apologize for it is even more damning.
Keeping Kobe happy is impossible. He’s always going to find something negative to use as motivational fuel. Brown needs to stop worrying about making sure he’s on Kobe’s mailing list for the annual Christmas card. Instead he should continue to poke and prod Mamba in hopes he’ll unleash that venom on the opposition.
PJ knew how to push the right buttons at the appropriate time. The results we’re always pretty in the immediate future but down the road they generally paid dividends.
Brown’s inability to step in and be honest with Kobe from the start has allowed the runaway shot selection train to go off the grid. You can’t un-ring that bell.
To be sure Brown is very good coach that always impresses when he speaks. He’s never at a loss for words, finds the appropriate phrases to express himself and never fails to face the music. But sometimes it takes a tyrant to reveal the character of a great leader. Kobe is that leader that needs the occasional reminder of just who is running the show. Brown will never be that tyrant but he’s in L.A. now and needs to know acting isn’t reserved for the starlets that sit courtside at Staples. There’s an old saying in Hollywood, “fake it until you make it.” Brown can’t hide his timid nature but he can do his best to convince his team there’s a lion roaring inside. Even if that lion is as fake as a stuffed animal.